ScienceDaily (2007-11-23) -- Scientists have discovered some unexpected forms of liquid crystals of ultrashort DNA molecules immersed in water, providing a new scenario for a key step in the emergence of life on Earth.A key missing step in the process has been discovered - it is felt that the formation of full DNA molecules by random chemistry is essentially impossible, and thus scientists have been searching for more primitive and simpler molecules that would self organize. These, then, could lead to DNA.
This discovery of liquid crystal form of self organizing ultrashort DNA is an amazing discovery. Small repeating patterns combine to build larger repeating patterns which combine to build even larger and more complex patterns. Evolution works fairly quickly with simple organizations, and slows for more complex organizations, as we've seen in a previous post (Sentient Evolution ).
This helps support New York University chemist Robert Shapiro's earlier statement that life began from cyclical reactions involving small molecules: "these reactions would produce compounds that would feed back into the cycle, creating an ever-growing reaction network" (Schirber, Par. 13). The cyclic reactions from the small molecules would eventually create more complex molecules that would be more efficient, replacing the smaller molecules: "the system would learn to make slightly larger molecules" (Schirber, Par. 15). This is the "metabolism first" hypothesis of how life began (the other main thought is that RNA came first).
However life started, there is evidence it started 3.7 billion years ago, and fossilized bacteria found as old as 3.5 billion years. There is evidence that some form of photosynthesis began nearly at the beginning, if not at the beginning. This may indicate yet again that photosynthesis may be one of the more common energy sources for life, especially early life - may even be a common, almost universal, part of the rise of life; thus, the most common life form in the universe may well be simple plants. When the writer of Genesis says God created plant life first, and far before animal life, that writer was right - He didn't dally with the plants.
Schirber, Michael. "How Life Began: New Research Suggests Simple Approach." Animals. Live Science. 9 June 2006. <http://www.livescience.com/animals/060609_life_origin.html>
University of Colorado at Boulder. "Tiny DNA Molecules Show Liquid Crystal Phases, Pointing Up New Scenario For First Life On Earth." ScienceDaily. 23 November 2007. 25 November 2007 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071122151148.htm>.